Hi James! So can you tell us a bit about your background, have you always worked in marketing?
Marketing has always been there in some shape or form – in the early days it was often an add on for Operations Director roles as there were always new services going to market and a really close tie in with clients. Customers, marketing and business operations are so linked. But I started out with a Law degree from Nottingham Uni. I had lots of exciting opportunities with various businesses, honed my skills, and endorsed it all with a masters degree at the same time.
So how did you start in marketing/what was your first marketing role?
I was heading up a £46m project of transformational change – part of the role was marketing. That was the first really scaled up marketing role. We set ourselves the objective of winning a national competition called Enterprising Britain within 3 years of starting the programme of change – it was basically putting into process and delivering all the projects so that we would be worthy winners and taking the branding from being “the worst place” to “the most enterprising place.” We had to do some slick marketing to get the attention of Dragon’s Den’s Peter Jones and other high profile judges. We won. I then headed off to Portugal to represent the UK at the European Enterprise Awards, where we were runners up. The next year I was invited to work alongside Peter Jones as a judge, and got to see some amazing projects in England and Ireland. After that I was hooked.
So why Birchall Blackburn Law, what drew you to the company?
I’d just wrapped up a huge project for Co-operative Legal Services that covered digital, and on-line and off-line marketing – a great experience delivering radio, TV ads, press, digital – the whole thing! So I was looking for something else to get my teeth stuck into with good values.
What would you say is the biggest misconception(s) about marketing?
There are lots – “advertising is marketing”, “brand is a logo”, “more is better”, “counting clicks”, and so on. Usually I find companies have a habit of marketing back to themselves.
So you use photography in your role, do you photograph a lot outside of work?
Yes – both photography and film making – it’s such a powerful medium for story telling. I’ve been commissioned by museums to deliver photographic exhibitions, as well as by the British Arts Council. I also hold my own as a wedding photographer. I do fundraising for RNLI – and take photos for them to auction off, and also for a Children’s charitable trust where a 30 second video raised in excess of £250k.
Hmmm. I’m a camera kit addict. For pure fun it has to be the GoPro – you just get such great in the moment photos. For pro work I’m a Sony fan.
Any sports or hobbies?
I was a British Sports Association and Athletic Union coach for around 15 years. I took up hockey 3 years ago when my kids started playing men’s hockey, and I play for Leek’s 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th teams, as well as the veterans – it’s an exciting but brutal sport. The kids have shot ahead to the first team, county, midlands and England trials. I also like to surf – not very good though – and body board, and mountain bike.
Yep – Lola the dog, 2 cats and 4 chickens. Do you want a picture of the dog?
Chocolate or crisps?
Crisps – my achilles heel. Hide them, or they will be gone.
Winter or summer?
Summer – I hate the cold, but always seem to be cold.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
Sort out Brexit so that everyone is happy.
What’s something you can’t live without?
Do you have any big ambitions?
To body board a 10ft wave.